By Scott Murray
I remember how nervous I was when Season One of The Crimson Files launched last year. Sure, I've been producing podcasts since 2011, and some of those included shows with story elements. However, I had never taken on anything of this magnitude. It took almost all summer to do the casting, scriptwriting, recording and editing. This includes the countless days and hours piecing together dialogue with music and sound effects. With all of that work, the scariest feeling is wondering if people will find the show, listen to it and like it.
Fast forward a year later, and Season One has another month of new downloads as Season Two gets ready to launch. I'm still immersed in a lengthy post-production process (as I write this, I'm editing Episode 3 of 6), but the countdown to the new season is still exciting.
There were some advantages and challenges to writing and producing a new season. One major advantage was familiarity. One of my strengths is writing for voice. When I wrote the first season, I had a general "idea" of how the characters would sound. Now, I know how they sound. Also, I didn't have to spend as much of the story introducing the characters to the audience.
The biggest challenge was making sure I gave people a good reason to come back and stay. I wanted to create a new villain and a new challenge that felt very different or very "next level" from the first season. I knew I needed to make sure the story gave all of the characters a chance to have meaningful moments like they did in the first season. After all, I have to assume people have some favorites outside of the main characters - people like Grandma Jeanie, Doc, Jenna, Donovan, Slick Saucy and Mr. Bill. I feel strongly that this season has achieved all of these important elements.
I envision Season Two taking place a few months after the end of Season One. In that time, The Crimson Crane is an established hero, and The Crimson Files is more popular than ever. As a result, people's lives have changed.
This includes Mr. Bill. Just to intrigue you, I can tell you he has a scene this season involving the Hillbilly Hellcats song, "Hillbillies on Speed."
As with last season, there was a really good ebb-and-flow with how this story came together. Once again, after the writing, casting, recording and editing, it's time for people to return to Fort Henson with us.
After the trip, I would love to hear what you think. But first, I want to thank you for being part of the journey.
By Scott Murray
After weeks of recording in studio and several hours already spent on post production, I'm excited to share a clip from Season Two of The Crimson Files Fiction Podcast. It's always fun to hear how voicework + music/sound effects come together in a scene. This is from the first episode of Season Two, and The Crane is trying to develop a strategy for stopping a road rager. Unfortunately, a gameplan doesn't come easy.
By Scott Murray
When I start to write a script, I make a mental note of the first word. It's a weird tradition, but it allows me to indulge in the progress that is made over time.
What was just one word on a page a few weeks ago (the word, "NARRATOR") is now:
It's pretty remarkable to think it all started with one word.
The teaser also allows me to feel good about what was accomplished in this story. I didn't want Season Two to feel like Season One with nothing but a new villain. I wanted to create something that would challenge the stability of a group of heroes who are used to winning. It was a challenge, and certain story elements evolved over time. Yet, if there's one thing you get from this teaser...it's that things are in some chaos.
It's also allowed me to finally let people hear something from the new season. That felt good since I'm not able to openly discuss the villain like I did with Drench in Season One.
Next week, I'll release a preview clip from the first episode.
Then on September 9th, the new season begins.
And it all started with one word on a computer screen.
By Scott Murray
I am one of those guys who can find ways to infuse pop culture references into a lot of conversations. Someone will say something, and it can trigger a line or scene from a movie in my head. At that moment, I immediately have to share it. People who know me well are used to this behavior, and people who listened to Season One heard a variety of pop culture references as well.
As I write this, the first episode of Season Two is about 95% complete. Just in that first episode, there are nods to Monty Python, Iron Man and Star Wars. Those who remember the end of Season One might recall Doc telling Rebecca that he thinks she needs "a Jarvis." If you watch the Marvel movies, you can probably guess the Iron Man reference. Think about that, and then consider how it might work if Doc decided to test it during an actual Crimson Crane mission.
I love Monty Python, and I found ways to throw in some nods to the movies and the Flying Circus television series. If you are well versed in both, you'll easily pick up on the references.
If you love Star Wars as much as me, you will also get some nods to the trilogies.
Along the way, you might also catch some random pop culture references to:
Captain America Civil War
The IT Crowd
and this song:
I hope you enjoy catching the references as you listen to the second season of The Crimson Files.
By Scott Murray
The logo for the second season of The Crimson Files Fiction Podcast really stands for everything we want this season to be. When you develop a new season for anything, you want it to be unique and stand on its own.
This logo does just that.
The artists are Jared J. Lee (who plays Reggie) and Alex Ray (who produced our Season 1 logo). If you're a fan of the first season, I have to think it's fun to wonder what you see in the frame.
It's been challenging not telling everyone what happens this season (or better yet - HOW it happens), but the logo explains why it's necessary. You see a mysterious figure crushing The Crane's symbol. That's a perfect representation of what she and her team face in this new story.
When I wrote the first season, I wanted to avoid taking the typical route in a superhero story. It was equally important to not simply drop a new villain into the second season and call it a day. The concept for this season evolved over time, and I'm very pleased with the final result.
I also love the way it looks in this logo.
By Scott Murray
Just as many people played Batman or Wonder Woman, we now have someone new playing The Crimson Crane. With any podcast production, life/work situations outside of podcasting can cause things to change. Stephanie Nadolny gave our superhero's voice the perfect blend of strong and benevolent in the first season. Her experience playing roles like young Goku in Dragon Ball Z made her an ideal fit for The Crane as we introduced her to audiences. She planned to return to the role in Season 2, but it just wasn't logistically possible.
However, I couldn't be more pleased with the actress that will give The Crimson Crane her voice in Season 2. I've known Brandi Andrade for over 15 years. She is a dedicated professional with years of experience in various forms of performance. She's also a joy to work with, and she's excited to be the new voice of Fort Henson's Superhero.
She knows that she has some pretty big rocket boots to fill following Stephanie's take on the character, but she's up for the challenge. One of the many things I love about Brandi playing The Crane is that she will bring that familiar gravitas to the voice while being able to put her own stamp on it. Her preparation for the role includes knowing everything that happened in Season 1, and listening closely to the great work Stephanie put into the character in our first season.
So while change isn't always easy, there can definitely be a lot of good to come out of it. I'm thrilled to have Brandi join the cast, and I can't wait for you to hear her voice Rebecca/The Crane.
I love what Adam West, Michael Keaton and Christian Bale brought to Batman. I am also a big fan of what Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot brought to Wonder Woman.
If you enjoyed The Crimson Crane in our first season, I know you'll love what Brandi brings to her voice in the second season.
By Scott Murray
It's hard to believe that a year ago, I was taking on my most ambitious podcast project to date, and there were a lot of unknowns. The answers to some of those Season 1 unknowns were keys to making Season 2 happen. These included:
Well, we obviously pulled off the first season, but the answers to the rest of the questions would come much later. I had to just put the show out there and see what happens. Then, in May of 2019, I started thinking about the possibilities for continuing the story.
Did people listen? Yes! In fact, people continued to find the show and listen to the first season. For a six-episode limited run, I was pleased with the download numbers. There was also not a huge discrepancy between the first episode and the rest of them. This tells me a lot of people listened to the entire season.
So, I checked that box. Then, I realized there was no reason to even think about a second season without asking the cast about it. So, I reached out to them and simply asked how they would feel about producing another six episodes. Everyone was on board.
What should happen in a second season?
I felt a new season required a next-level challenge that was very different from Drench. However, if there was one major constant in the positive feedback I got last year, it was how great Drench was as a villain. So, not only does the team have to be challenged in a compelling way, the new baddie had some big shoes to fill.
We're making it happen
One of the advantages of a second season is you're getting to build on what you established in the first season. A lot of last year's narrative focused on the audience getting to know Wyatt, Reggie, Jenna, Grandma Jeanie, Doc and The Crimson Crane. Now, we can take familiar characters and do something new.
Also, we began production last week, and the cast is easily jumping back into the characters they voiced in the first six episodes. I juggled a lot of challenges when developing this new story. Some of my concerns included:
Well, I didn't rush things, and just like last season, everything came together. As each scene and episode flowed into the other, my initial concerns took care of themselves. This happened last season, and that is definitely a great sign.
After finishing the finale yesterday, I can tell you that I'm very pleased with how everything turned out. Once again, I find myself very anxious for you to hear the new season.
After a successful first season in 2018, The Crimson Files returns with a new story. The action/comedy superhero-themed fiction podcast will bring back the entire main cast and feature some new voices in Season Two.
Some of the new characters include:
Gwendolynn Murphy as Gina
Douglas Cunningham as Police Chief Frank Elliot
Aaron Michael as Spike
As production begins on July 21st, an official synopsis has been released for Season Two:
Months following the defeat of Drench, the people of Fort Henson have officially embraced The Crimson Crane as their superhero. Now, an unexpected threat will challenge the legitimacy of The Crane and test the resilience of her team.
Season 2 is expected to wrap production in August and premiere in September 2019.
By Scott Murray
As we make our way to Friday's episode of The Crimson Files, I thought it would be fun to point out something many of you might have noticed -
I infuse tie-ins, nods and references to many things in this series. I guess you could call them Audio Easter Eggs. They're usually tied to something from my life or fandoms. Here are some examples from the first episode:
LET'S CUT TO THE SAUCY FOOTAGE!
Slick Saucy can be a little over-the-top when he's hosting his show, and his obsession with The Crimson Crane catching on fire was no exception. Did you notice how he constantly asked people if they had seen the footage and then showed it to them? That was a nod to an old Saturday Night Live skit in which Ted Koppell kept asking people if they'd seen the footage of Buckwheat getting shot and then showing it to them.
Slick Saucy's name was inspired by two people. When I was in high school, we had to record a fake newscast (using this thing called video tape) and a classmate (who had slicked-back hair) called himself Slick Blizer. On Saturday Night Live, Phil Harman used to host a show about sassy things. In it, he would frequently look at the camera and say, "SASSY!"
Slick Sassy didn't sound good enough. So, I changed it to Saucy.
I CAN ONLY TAKE YOU AS FAR AS THE FRONT DOOR
I am a longtime fan of The Muppets, and they are a big part of my nostalgia. So, when Jenna was speeding Wyatt to his work, she asked him what time he has to be there. The script called for this exchange:
I need to be in my boss’s office by 8 am sharp, and he’s on the 4th floor.
I can only take you as far as the front door.
That is a nod to my favorite Muppet movie.
Jenna picked Wyatt up after he called for a driving service. He told them that his address was 900 Rogan Avenue, Apartment 84.
Alex ROGAN was the lead character in one of my favorite 80s movies - The Last Starfighter. 900 represented the 900,000 he hit as he broke the score record. Finally APARTMENT 84 was a nod to the release date - 1984
Osborne Hudson - Over the last 20 years, I've infused the name Osborne, Hudson or Osborne Hudson into my productions. He was my social studies, speech and theater instructor in middle school. He was also one-of-a-kind. He passed away while I was in high school, and inserting his name into scripts is a great way to acknowledge and remember him. I was thrilled that his name was in the first scene of The Crimson Files.
Mr. Bill - I was voted "Most Witty" by my high school senior class. One reason was because I accurately impersonated one of the school's math teachers - Bill Harvick. The sound of Mr. Bill's voice, as well as the way he talks, is pretty accurate to the real person. Yes, that includes his obsession with people "getting quiet".
In high school I made audio stories starring Mr. Harvick doing badass things, like being a cop or a sheriff in the Old West. In this podcast he gets to be a little more of himself and part of the show's comic relief.
By Scott Murray
Wow. It's hard to believe the first episode of The Crimson Files launches tomorrow. It's exciting, scary and surreal rolled all into one. About three months ago, all I had was an idea. There was no concept, no story, no characters, no recordings and no artwork. I just decided to create a fiction podcast.
I had my concerns:
Could I do everything well enough (write, direct, produce, edit)?
Could I write an engaging 6-part continuous story?
Would I find people to play all of the parts?
Could I get it all done in a reasonable timeframe?
My wife had concerns. She knew I hadn't written anything like this in over ten years (and back then, it was all visual). She wondered if the concept would translate well enough to audio. She worried if all of the potential obstacles would turn this into a long-running and time-consuming effort.
However, three months later, we're both excited.
I found an affordable place to record the scenes.
I hired some talented music producers to create a theme.
Post-production has been lengthy and extensive. However, it's also been very fun to hear it all mesh together.
I've had colleges listen, give me feedback, and it's been very positive.
Insights and news about The Crimson Files Podcast.